Jigsaw Puzzle

The Jigsaw Puzzle of Life


Image courtesy of zaxl4

Would you like to become more productive by doing less? Would you like to be capable of solving complex problems with sudden bursts of insight? Would you like to learn how to apply consistent effort to complete the most daunting of tasks? Great! Do a jigsaw puzzle.

Wait…What?

Recently, on a whim I purchased a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. I’d never completed a jigsaw puzzle before but I do enjoy all manner of mental stimulation. Interestingly the experience turned out to be unexpectedly instructive. As the pieces came together over the next couple of days the process of joining 1,000 pieces just so revealed a number of important lessons in productivity and the power of perspective and consistent effort.

Increase Your Productivity by Taking Breaks

As pieces of the puzzle began to come together there were times where I was engrossed for hours on end. The going was easy and the time spent productive. But then, suddenly I would hit a wall. No piece could be made to fit and for the life of me I couldn’t see where certain pieces should go.

At times such as these there may be a tendency to push doggedly on. You might want to keep at it until a breakthrough is somehow forced. Unfortunately the reward for such determination is more often frustration, stress and wasted time then success. Instead take a break from the task.

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” – Ovid

Get up and out of the environment and allow your mind to clear. You’ll return refreshed, motivated and most importantly with fresh perspective. So armed, the pieces of the puzzle (metaphorically speaking) will soon fall together. You will achieve much more while using a smaller amount of energy and effort.

Finally, to be productive, instead of attempting to multitask, focus on one task at a time. Multitasking serves only to reduce focus so you accomplish more things slower and make more mistakes. Mistakes mean you’ll have to redo the task and so reduce your productivity even further.

The Power of Perspective

Much of the improvement in productivity that comes from taking a break comes as a result of the fresh perspective produced as a result going away and letting your mind clear. At times while staring at the many scattered pieces of the puzzle progress seemed unlikely. Then the next day while walking pass the table where the jigsaw puzzle in progress sat obvious connections would leap out at me and once again the pieces would fly into place with ease.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelius

Perspective is one of the most powerful forces in the world and in our lives. The perspective you take, by conscious choice or otherwise, largely determines the nature and quality of your life. See difficulty and you life will be difficult. See opportunities and possibilities and you life will be constantly interesting. Life will be filled with excitement and unbounded experience.

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

Sometimes we find ourselves banging our head up against a wall. Nothing seems to be working and everywhere we turn our path forward appears blocked. At such times simply relaxing and letting things be for a time serves to give our conscious minds a break from matters.

Meanwhile the subconscious mind is working diligently away at the problem. Within a short space of time new events occur and the situation shifts. Doors that were previously locked are suddenly wide open and new doors we previously hadn’t known existed appear. The doors may have always been there. Only now our perspective has changed.

Consistent Effort Leads to Achievement

Famously it was said that a journey of 10,000 miles begins with a single step. After that first step comes another step. And another. All the way to the final destination 10,000 miles away.

1,000 pieces of a jigsaw puzzle looks like a lot when you have them all loosely spread out in front of you in one big mess. However connecting one piece to another is a simple task requiring just a moment to achieve. This idea of chunking things down into smaller things that we can easily do now and consistently over time is applicable to all manner of goals.

When I was studying at university one way I kept up consistent effort was by realizing that reading just one sentence of the reading for the week carried me closer to completing my degree. Just one paragraph. Just a page. Hardly a daunting task. This reveals the truth about monumental undertakings. They are simply a massive amount of small tasks combined. Do one today and do another tomorrow. Soon great progress is made and eventually the task is complete.

On Jigsaws and Life

More often then not the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that is your life will come together in a manner beyond your currently ability to imagine. Be concerned if you wish so that you take appropriate action. However, do not worry. Temper consistent effort with time out. Apply movement and stillness at the appropriate time. Seek and allow for fresh perspectives both from within yourself and from exterior sources. Remember that jigsaw puzzles are made to be pulled apart. Most important of all, relax and learn to let go. The right pieces will come together at the right time. It’ll all work out.

This article was written by Stephen Cox. Stephen writes daily at Balanced Existence where he shares the knowledge and insights gained from his personal journey of holistic health and wellbeing.